Toronto After Dark 2023 Wrap-Up | Late Night with the Devil Review

by Andrew Parker

Sibling Aussie filmmakers Cameron and Colin Cairnes’ inventive, eerie, and highly entertaining Late Night with the Devil (winner of the Audience Choice Award at this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival) takes the “found footage” conceit and flips it on its head to great effect.

David Dastmalchian (who rightfully netted an acting prize at the festival for his efforts here) stars as Jack Delroy, a fledgling, old school late night chat show host looking to boost his ratings and finally beat Carson in all the core demos. On Halloween night 1977, his plan to put on a spooky show – including guest appearances by a medium (Fayssal Bazzi), a magician turned arrogant skeptic (Ian Bliss), and a potentially possessed young girl (Ingrid Torelli) and her doctor (Laura Gordon) – goes horribly awry. Jack Delory is about to make television history, but it might be for all the wrong reasons.

The Cairnes brothers mount Late Night with the Devil largely in the style of the “raw feed” of that fateful evening’s live broadcast, and the filmmakers absolutely nail the American pop culture tenor of the time with spectacular performances, spot on details, and healthy layers of historical subtext. There are also plenty of moments of “never before seen behind the scenes footage” that depicts the chaos unfolding during commercial breaks, which is well integrated, but less assured on a stylistic level than the talk show recreation footage.

Late Night with the Devil isn’t just an effective horror movie that goes berserk at the end, but something that also captures the giddy glee of watching a television train wreck unfolding in real time. Late Night with the Devil is one of the most satisfying and memorable genre efforts of the year.

Late Night with the Devil screened as part of the 2023 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. It opens in select theatres nationwide on Friday, March 22, 2024. It will make its streaming premiere on Shudder at a later date.

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